Mob Town review
The Law of Disney (we may have just coined this) dictates that adding anthropomorphic animals to any genre instantly makes that genre better.
With this in mind, we turn to Mob Town, a crime-themed area control card game where players battle for domination of the titular settlement’s various businesses by hiring a roster of Mafia-style fauna, from rats in flat caps and weasel to femme fatale foxes and literal card sharks – not unlike a lightweight tabletop crossover of The Godfather and Disney’s own Zootropolis.
The city is constructed randomly from the deck of up to 14 property cards, each of which indicates a direction to lay the next card. Distance and direction matter, as players must discard extra cards – or give them to rival owners of businesses along the way – to purchase buildings that are not already adjacent to one of their existing properties. Players can add additional buildings to the edge of the metropolis and instantly take them over by spending one of three briefcase tokens available to them – if unspent, they are worth two points each during the game’s score tallying.
Each turn consists of a single action per player, which involves either drawing animal cards from a central pile, trading one card to acquire all matching animals cards from a five-card lineup, discarding cash to take any two cards from the lineup or taking over a business by paying its cost (the number) in cards that match either of its two suits (animals). The price increases by one for every former owner of the building, with cash cards acting as one-value wild cards. It’s a simple set of rules enhanced immeasurably by the bright and bold cartoon artwork of the cards, which offer wonderfully colourful and caricaturised takes on the zoological stars. The buildings aren’t as visually outstanding as the animals, but still offer vivid hues and some subtle wordplay along with their atmospheric aesthetics.
Each round ends when the law card is drawn (an Alsatian in a police officer’s uniform, naturally) and scores are tallied up based on the value of each property, plus bonus points for achieving player-specific agendas, such as owning the most gaming halls or restaurants, two of which are selected at the start of the game and can be swapped at the cost of a turn.
Mob Town is relatively quick, simple and engaging to play in short bursts – something that its own suggestion of three rounds, with each new round completely resetting the city and property ownership, works against. As well as losing the investment you’ve made in properties, playing three rounds for a combined final score makes the game feel repetitive, whereas playing the three rounds as separate matches allowed us to greater relish the competitive aspects of the title and enjoy it as a shorter filler game. Still, it’s hard to complain too much when the basic ingredients remain so reassuringly solid. The real crime would be to not give Mob Town a chance.
This review originally appeared in the February issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
Boasting solid mechanics wrapped up in a gloriously vivid and expressive art style, Mob Town is an accessible area control title with plenty to offer as a short filler game. Just make sure you ignore the suggestion to play three rounds and enjoy each round as a snappy competitive match in itself.
Genre: Area control
Time: 30-45 minutes